Of the four events on the reconfigured Australian CT leg, it feels that the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona might be feeling just a little neglected. Surf fans have been attracted by the three box-fresh surfboards and seemed to have forgotten about the old faithful gun sitting dusty in the rack.
Torturous analogies aside, Margaret River is the only event in the leg with surf history, both ancient and modern. It's been a regular stop on the pro tour since the early 1980s, and after a brief hiatus, a fixture on the CT schedule since 2013. That means, unlike Newcastle, Narrabeen, and Rottnest, we can look at the past form as a predictor of the future. Here are six surfers who have perennially performed in Western Australia.
It's not only that John John has won here the last two times the event was run, but the manner of his victories that makes him the unbackable favorite. In 2017 his performance at Main Break set a competitive power surfing benchmark that has yet to be bettered. In 2019 he steadily built up a head of steam at both the Box and Main Break and dropped his highest heat total of the event in the Final. Add a QS win here in 2012, a CT Final in 2014, and you can see why he's the man to beat.
Since Margaret River returned to the CT schedule in 2013, only John John Florence and Carissa Moore have been able to win it twice. A caveat for Moore though would be that she won her back-to-back titles back in 2013 and 2014. Her (relative) lack of results after those victories was perplexing. Moore's aggressive surfing and singular ability to hold her rail through the most powerful of waves seemed tailor-made for success at Main Break. That's why her Semifinal finish in 2019 was a regression to the mean. A win in 2021 would make her the most successful surfer at Margaret River of the modern era. You'd be brave to bet against her making history.
Part of Florence's performances in Western Australia can be put down to Kolohe Andino. The Californian has pushed his friend and rival all the way and finished runner-up in the last two Finals against Florence. Andino has a terrible Finals' record, losing all of the five he has made, but if there is any place where he can shake the monkey off his back, it's Margarets. The righthanders suit his style, the Mayhem boards are dialed into the power, and he feels right at home here. He'll just need to be beat John John.
Tyler Wright has come a long way since she made the Final at Margaret River in 2014. Her journey, both as a competitor and a person, has been one of the most compelling narratives in surfing. Yet throughout a career threatened by injury, Margaret River has been a consistent venue for success. Her win here in 2016 was the platform from which she launched her first World Title win. The following year a runner-up finish reignited her successful defense. At a venue that rewards big turns and big commitment, Wright will always be a huge threat.
It's perhaps no surprise that Julian Wilson is third on the list; he shares a similar mix of style, progression, and power as Florence and Andino. It's a Formula 1 fuel ratio that has earned him a Semifinal finish in 2019 and a runner-up in 2016. His versatility means he is equally comfortable at Main Break, The Box, and North Point and, having traveled to Margaret River for the better part of 20 years, knows all the angles on this raw, multi-faceted diamond of a surf destination. 2021 might be the year he turns his previous consistency into a big win.
It's no surprise that the Australian veteran has been one of the most consistent performers in Western Australia over the last decade. Having grown up on the reefbreaks on the South Coast of NSW, the power of Margaret River has always been a good foil to her technique, fitness, and grit. She won the event in 2017, and had Semifinal finishes in 2014 and 2015. It's a venue where experience counts and the 30-year-old will be looking to claim her 12th event win in her 12th year on the CT at one of her favorite stops on tour.